Thursday, 23 September 2010
Terence the peach-faced lovebird sits on his perch in the birdhouse, alone. The human punters stroll through the building, admiring the radiance of the rainbow lorikeets, the bright plumes of the macaws, the macabre, large stillness of the black vultures.
The punters stop at Terence's enclosure and fall silent. The sign says,
“Lillian's Lovebird (Agapornis lilianae)” .
His beauty impresses people, sure. His green plume, ebbing into orange around his tiny face, is always perfectly groomed. He stares back at the people as they pass, his chin high. He's waiting for their expressions to slip into mild confusion, and for the mumbling conversations to start.
A human couple approach the glass, hand-in-hand. They look into his cage, into his eyes, into his heart.
She turns her head towards her boyfriend's, never breaking eye-contact with Terence. “Aren't lovebirds supposed to come in pairs?” she asks, quietly.
“That's what I thought,” he says.
Terence watches as he releases of her hand and holds her by the far hip. She looks down, leaning into her boyfriend, her head resting on his shoulder.
Like they know what to do to hurt him the most.
For the hundredth time today, his tiny parrot heart breaks.
The couple stroll on to the next window, leaving Terence alone, again.
He knows he has to address this. Who puts a lovebird into a zoo... on its own? Do they not research their subjects, he thinks, before they organise accommodation?
Terence knows that there is only one way forward for him. He needs to speak to his mentor, Fluffy Oakes. Fluffy is the only human who even slightly understands him. In fact, he's the only creature on Earth that does- maybe ever. But Terence knows that he's not the only animal in the zoo with challenges. There are others that need Fluffy's help. Lots of others.
Terence and Fluffy haven't met for three weeks now. The lovebird's minor problems are all mounting up- his diet, his accommodation, his general health- plus the pressure of being a spectacle in the zoo...
But most of all, his longing for another lovebird is crushing him.
Can Fluffy sort this for him? Will Terence even get around to talking about this, or will he shy away from the issue?
His meeting with Fluffy is in two more days. In the meantime, Terence is just going to stay on that perch, his head high, pruning his feathers, accepting the punters' compliments and trying to ignore the pain... and how wrong all this is.